Genetic diversity of the human adenovirus species C DNA polymerase

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Background:Human Adenovirus (HAdV) are responsible for severe infections in hematopoietic stem cells transplant (HSCT) recipient, species C viruses being the most commonly observed in this population. There is no approved antiviral treatment yet. Cidofovir (CDV), a cytidine analog, is the most frequently used and its lipophilic conjugate, brincidofovir (BCV), is under clinical development. These drugs target the viral DNA polymerase (DNA pol). Little is known about the natural polymorphism of HAdV DNA pol in clinical strains.Methods:We assessed the inter- and intra-species variability of the whole gene coding for HAdV DNA pol of HAdV clinical strains of species C. The study included 60 species C HAdV (21 C1, 27 C2 and 12 C5) strains isolated from patients with symptomatic infections who had never experienced CDV or BCV treatments and 20 reference strains. We also evaluated the emergence of mutations in thrirteen patients with persistent HAdV infection despite antiviral treatment.Results:We identified 356 polymorphic nucleotide positions (9.9% of the whole gene), including 102 positions with nonsynonymous mutations (28.0%) representing 8.7% of all amino acids. The mean numbers of nucleotide and amino acid mutations per strain were 23.1 (±6.2) and 5.2 (±2.4) respectively. Most of amino acid substitutions (60.6%) were observed in one instance only. A minority (13.8%) were observed in more than 10% of all strains. The most variable region was the NH2 terminal domain (44.2% of amino acid mutations). Mutations in the exonuclease domain accounted for 27.8%. The binding domains for the terminal protein (TPR), TPR1 and TPR2, presented a limited number of mutations, which were nonetheless frequently observed (62.5% and 58.8% of strains for TPR1 and TPR2, respectively). None of the mutations associated with CDV or BCV resistance were detected. In patients receieving antiviral drugs with persistent HAdV replication, we identified a new mutation in the NH2 terminal region.Conclusions:Our study shows a high diversity in HAdV DNA pol sequences in clinical species C HAdV and provides a comprehensive mapping of its natural polymorphism. These data will contribute to the interpretation of HAdV DNA pol mutations selected in patients receiving antiviral treatments.HIGHLIGHTSNucleotide and amino acids substitutions were observed respectively in 10.3% and 8.7% of HAdV C strains.The most variable region was the NH2 terminal domain.HAdV DNA pol sequence enabled to distinguish HAdV strains within a type.None of the mutations associated with cidofovir or brincidofovir resistance was detected.The mapping of HAdV DNA pol polymorphism will help for the interpretation of genotypic assays.

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